Notes from Practice

Dylan Burkhardt

On the eve of Michigan’s first exhibition game, Joe and I compared notes to aggregate as many notes as possible from Michigan’s practices over the last couple weeks. Michigan held an open practice for student ticket holders this evening and we received several reports from students that attended the event. Beilein also shared a number of tidbits when he stopped by WTKA on Wednesday. Here is a run-down of that information as well as tidbits from other various reports that we’ve received:

  • The starting line-up in Michigan’s scrimmage versus Eastern Michigan was Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan. We have no reason to believe that group won’t start on Friday night.
  • Darius Morris has been performing extremely well in practice. It remains to be seen what happens when the lights go on, but he’s opened some eyes the past several weeks. He was the best player at the Maize Rage open practice and his shot looked much improved.
  • Jordan Morgan has also been playing well — reportedly pulling down around 10 rebounds and taking a charge in Michigan’s scrimmage versus EMU. He played well in the open practice, especially on the offensive glass, and showed off some post moves to boot.
  • The buzz coming out of summer practice surrounded Tim Hardaway Jr. and he’s established himself as one of Michigan’s top options — leading the team in scoring versus EMU. He was slowed down by illness at tonight’s practice but his ability was evident.
  • Evan Smotrycz is a scorer. He loves to shoot and during the open practice, he was one of the team’s top scorers (along with Novak).  Smotrycz has also been one of the more consistent outside shooters on the squad but Beilein is telling anyone that will listen (pressers, radio, etc) that Smotrycz still has a ways to go distinguishing between good and bad shots.
  • Speaking of consistent shooters, Matt Vogrich has shot the ball well this fall. His problem is that he continues to drift a little too much on the offensive end preventing him from being more assertive.
  • Zack Novak is starting at the two guard but Stu Douglass saw most of his minutes at the two rather than backing up Morris at the point. This is a good sign because the more minutes Morris can play at the point, the better the team will be. Sophomore guard Eso Akunne ran the point guard position for the second team in the open practice.
  • Inside scoring is a huge question mark for this team — where will it come from? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
  • Jon Horford has probably the best rebounding instincts of any of Michigan’s bigs but, despite looking noticeably bigger than he did this spring, is still going to have problems with his strength down low against Big Ten bigs.
  • As expected, Blake McLimans’ offensive game is focused on the perimeter. He reportedly shot the ball well in the open practice but didn’t do a whole lot in the post.  Every report from practice mentions that his shot is smooth and looks good but he needs to continue to become more consistent.
  • Colton Christian played on the perimeter quite a bit in the open practice, as expected from a Beilein four man, and he has the makings of a mid-range jump shot but is still continuing to develop his perimeter offensive skills.

Everyone will finally have the chance to see the team in action on Friday evening and begin to make their own judgments. Considering that Michigan fans have only seen four scholarship players on this year’s roster play in a game before, there is a surprising amount of intrigue for just an exhibition game.

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  • Umichmadness

    is there a way 2 watch the game if you dont have bigtennetwork membership

    i really need 2 see this

  • Not sure… Probably have to shell out the money. You will get access to the two other Michigan games on as well, as they both fall in a 30 day period.

  • AG2

    You could wait until the replay later on TV.

  • GregGoBlue

    If BTN’s website is anything like it was last year, chances are the feed will be so bad that you’ll have to watch the game as “archived” later. Just a heads up.

  • Tweeter

    Can’t wait to see the team tomorrow evening. Luckily I have tix and won’t have to pull my hair out watching the feed which was incredibly choppy last year. I really think people need to be more excited about this team and its chances this year to be competitive. With so many new faces and all of them kind of bringing different skill sets to the court, this team could be a lot better than expected. Obviously, they could also struggle, but I hate when people get down on them before they even know what the team will look like.

    As far as Dmo’s shot, I would be shocked if its that improved this year. He had so many mechanical issues last year that I believe it’s gonna take longer than one offseason to get right. Especially when he gets in game enviroments with pressure on, because there is a tendency to revert to the old mechanics and what you are comfortable with rather than sticking to what you have been practicing. But I really do hope its improved as that would certainly help open the floor.

    Dylan, still no word on possible redshirts for any of the new guys? Do you remember at what point they announced last year that McLimans would redshirt? I’m mainly just curious about Horford. I actually think his game is ready for this level, just his body probably is not.

  • 2tone

    JB has been touted as one of the truly great coaches by almost all of those “in the know”, but it’s these quotes from former recruit Desean Butler which were made at last years Final Four, that have me very pumped up about this year. Keep in mind, he was playing in the Final Four on a Bob Huggins coached team:

    “The system works. That’s the best system I’ve ever been part of in my life as far as just running an offense. It suited me so well. I think everybody kind of gets into, you’ve got to get all these five-star and whatever recruits, and for him, you just need to find the right players who can obviously make shots, but who will work hard. And if you find that right group, and not like prima donnas, it could be a very good system.”

    Da’Sean is so confident in Beilein’s system he thinks Beilein can win next season without Manny Harris or DeShawn Sims…he continues:

    “You can go and win with eight freshmen recruits,” Butler said. “(Michigan has) a great coach, and it’s just a matter of everyone buying in.”

    So what if everyone doesn’t buy in?

    “Everybody has to buy in, and you have to get the right people,” Butler said, referring to Beilein’s offense, which requires discipline and precise shooting. “You’ve got to get the absolute right people for that system, because if you have even one person that doesn’t understand or doesn’t care to understand, a cancer on the team of some sort, then it can throw everything off, honestly.”

    Well, it appears that we no longer have any cancers……

    80% of the 10 man rotation will be here for the next 3 years, as a very rare fan who’s passion for UM Hoops exceeds that of UM Football……how can I not be excited…Go Blue!!!!!

  • georgeesq.

    Good find 2tone. That’s the only thing that makes me at all optimistic that we can achieve a .500 record overall. With only 4 returning players, none of them proven scorers, and the toughest Big 10 in years, it’s going to take Coach of the Year type effort to get over .500. I’m looking forward to seeing the boys tonight.

  • On the streaming… I watched part of the MSU/Saginaw game and it seemed to be pretty good quality. Didn’t really have many issues. It wasn’t as nice as ESPN3 or but it was adequate.

  • C weezy

    BTN replays UM’s exhibition game on SUNDAY 11am!!!

  • Wow, I find almost all of those notes encouraging. Darius’ failure to score has been high on my list of distressing issues for the team, so–yay.

    Re Horford: I think I would call his style “deliberate.” I think fluidity and speed will come as a pretty smart kid gets stronger and more confident, translates what he’s learning into action on a repeat basis.

  • Champswest

    That starting lineup is exactly as I predicted and I am fine with it. I think that McLimans is really a 4, but I hope that he can become effective for us at the 5 as we are well stocked at the 4 position. Smotrycz/Christain need to give us at least 12-15 pts at the 4 and the same for Novak/Duglass/Vogrich at the 2 and Hardaway/Vogrich at the 3. Then if we can get 10+ from the point and the 5 spot, we could be in good shape.

    I can’t wait until tonight!

  • Bluebufoon

    Thanks 2tone–excellent information. These kids love Beilein. I’m fired up about this team and can’t wait to see how much we improve with this roster over the next couple of years. Now if we just can pull a couple of commitments this weekend, almost everyone will be happy, basketball wise. Football, Illinois is going to pound our eyes shut.

  • Sam

    I just have to say really quick that I am disappointed in any student that gave out information from the open practice last night. Coach Beilein explicitly stated multiple times last night that he did not want us to say anything about the practice outside of Crisler. He didn’t want any information on starting lineups, players bullets, or formations going up on any website. If anyone heard this and ignored him, I am very displeased with what they have done. I know it may not be a huge deal, but you have to respect what your head coach says, and if he asks you to keep everything about a closed practice quiet, then you do that. It’s quite frustrating.